If the United States is the melting pot of the world, then Southern California is the melting pot of the United States.  Here in the southland, just about every nationality, ethnicity, culture and religion is represented.

Southern Californians are fortunate to have such a diverse bounty of culture, food and traditions to enjoy. One such tradition is Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—a holiday that is celebrated on November 1. It originated in Mexico, but is widely celebrated in Latin America and has grown in popularity in Southern California.

Dia de los Muertos honors deceased loved ones through food, music and festive celebration. Its roots can be traced back to an indigenous Aztec ritual that was combined with Catholicism and its two minor holidays, All Saints on November 1 and All Souls on November 2.

In the celebration of Dia de los Muertos, death is considered as a natural part of the human experience, a harmonious process of birth, childhood, and becoming an adult. The lives of the deceased are celebrated with food, drink, parties, and activities that were enjoyed in life. The thought is that those who have gone on before would be insulted by mourning or sadness.

Calacas and calveras — skeletons and skulls – are the most common images used in Dia de los Muertos. They appear in candies, parade masks, as dolls and most often in situations that depict the enjoyment of life.

You are invited to attend one of Forest Lawn’s three Dia de los Muertos celebrations on Sunday, November 1 that will feature free music, refreshments, souvenirs and entertainment. Forest Lawn-Cypress will host a celebration and religious service from 3 to 5 pm, while in Coachella the festival will be held all day with a religious service at 5 pm.

In partnership with the City of Covina, a Dia de los Muertos ceremony will be held from 11 am to 7 pm at Forest Lawn-Covina Hills. A religious service will be held at 4 pm.

Admission and parking are free.